clay pigeon email

Do You Really Need an Email Newsletter?

Too often the words “email marketing” become synonymous with “email newsletter.”

email newsletterNewsletter programs and other frequent, consistent email communication to a known audience are merely a facet of the discipline. I’m not knocking all email newsletters per se. Some are great. They give us the ability as marketers to include multiple pieces of content in a single correspondence. Their frequency provides the organization with a means to stay top of mind among consumers. Plus, many newsletter series and programs lead to segmentation opportunities.

However, to succeed at email marketing, your organization does not necessarily have to send a weekly/monthly/quarterly email teeming with company news and relevant (or completely inward focused) updates. In fact, there are some scenarios in which you should just avoid the newsletter like a looming cloud of ominous yellow jackets.

Take the brands on this list for example. This data (originally found here) was produced by a study from, a service that “rolls up” email marketing messages from brands you don’t necessarily need to hear from all the time into a single synopsis message. The service carries out this noise canceling process by limiting the email you receive without officially unsubscribing you from any list.

1800 Flowers:
Pro Flowers:
Oriental Trading:
1800 Contacts:
Party City:
Unsubscribe Rate

Question: What do these brands have in common?

If you answered, their bounce rates make forlorn cherubs weep incessantly, you would be correct. You might also detect a shared note about nature of each business. Flowers, party supplies, travel, contact lenses, etc. all impart a sporadic customer demand. You would be hard pressed to find a single consumer that purchases one of these products on a regular basis. However, each brand just keeps on sending messages regularly anyway, thereby annoying email recipients to the point of unsubscribe.

The truth is: each of these brands would be better served to send less email, or rather to send email at more appropriate times when demand it likely to be sky high. As an example, here is a message I received one year after purchasing a pearl bracelet for my wife, just a week before Mother’s Day. The message was relevant, timely and well received.

automated ecommerce email

Unfortunately, many email marketers would prefer to fire away with email after email, just hoping to win back an inspired customer. That approach is rather uninspired. No wonder click rates degrade1 so steadily over time.

Email Click Rate Degradation

Our email audience should be viewed as gift recipients, not clay pigeons. Send meaningful, helpful messages to consumers at opportune times. If you don’t know when those times are, update your email sign up permission granting process to find out.


1 – Data from MailChimp’s recent Subscriber Engagement Study – November 2013.